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Raphaël Botiveau provides a compelling narrative of NUM’s powerful history and the legacy of its leadership in Organise or Die?

This is a vivid, lively account … focusing on the agency of real human actors and the events impacting on the South African labour landscape post Marikana. It will both deepen scholarship and provoke much debate.
- Andries Bezuidenhout, associate professor, Department of Sociology, University of Pretoria

A splendid effort, Organise or Die? is a path-breaking new account of the history of NUM. No-one will be able to write about unionisation in South Africa, especially in the mining sector, without engaging with Botiveau’s thoughtful insights and provocative argument.
- T. Dunbar Moodie, author of Going for Gold: Men, Mines and Migration

Organise or Die? Democracy and Leadership in South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers is the first in-depth study of one of the leading trade unions in the country. Founded in 1982, the trade union played a key role in the struggle against white minority rule, before turning into a central protagonist of the ruling Tripartite Alliance after apartheid. Deftly navigating through workerist, social movement and political terrains that shape the South African labour landscape, this book sheds light on the path that led to the unprecedented 2012 Marikana massacre, the dissolution of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) federation and to fractures within the African National Congress (ANC) itself.

Working with the notions of organisational agency and strategic bureaucratisation, Raphaël Botiveau shows how the founding leadership of NUM built their union’s structures with a view to mirror those of the multinational mining companies NUM faced. Good leadership proved key to the union’s success in recruiting and uniting mineworkers and NUM became an impressive school for union and political cadres, producing a number of South Africa’s top post-apartheid leaders. An incisive analysis of leadership styles and strategies shows how the fragile balance between an increasingly distant leadership and an increasingly militant membership gradually broke down.

Botiveau provides a compelling narrative of NUM’s powerful history and the legacy of its leadership. It will appeal to a broad readership – including journalists, students and social sciences scholars – interested in South Africa’s contemporary politics and labour history.

Author bio

Trained in the social sciences (political sociology, African and postcolonial studies) in four countries (France, South Africa, the United States and Italy), Botiveau first worked as a journalist before devoting himself to research and teaching. He received his PhD from the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (France) and La Sapienza Università di Roma (Italy) focusing on trade unionism and negotiation in South Africa’s post-apartheid gold and platinum mining industries.

Book details

  • Organise or Die? Democracy and Leadership in South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers by Raphaël Botiveau
    EAN: 9781776142040
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

Provoking thoughts, great inspirations and heated discussions at the opening night of the 21st Time of the Writer Festival

By Marlyn Ntsele

Attendees at the 21st Time of the Writer Opening Night. ©Charles Dlamini.

Literature lovers gathered at the opening night of the 21st Time of the Writer Festival which took place on Monday 12 March 2018 in Elisabeth Sneddon Theatre at the University of KwaZulu Natal. To give all guests a warm Durban welcome maskandi guitarist and vocalist Mphendukelwa Mkhize provided the musical opening.

Prof Stephen M. Mutula, acting DVC & Head of College of Humanities, had the honour of opening the festival with a speech in which he emphasised the importance of the festival in bringing together leading African intellectuals and cultural practitioners and placing them in public events and engagements with local communities. Following this Miss Tebogo Msizi from eThekwini Municipality, one of the partners of the festival, emphasised the important role Time of the Writer has played within acquiring the title of “City of Literature” by UNESCO in 2017.

After the speeches, host Chipo Zhou, acting director of the Centre of Creative Arts that organises the event, opened the stage for the participating writers to present themselves and offer the audience a taste on their perspective on this year’s theme: “changing the narrative”.

The Zambian Jennipher Zulu shared her experience of writing her first book with the audience: “I didn’t really sit down to write a book, I was just putting down my issues.” She will be launching her book It’s Hard to keep a Secret on Saturday morning 17 March at Ike’s book shop.

Lesego Rampolokeng introduced himself the only way he knows how to, with a thought-provoking four minute poem.

Lindiwe Mabuza shared that she was encouraged by Can Themba to write, but she only took his advice years later when in 1977 she went to Lusaka to work with the ANC women authors and they published a book titled Malibongwe.

Lindiwe Mabuza. ©Charles Dlamini

Another Zambian author on the program, Luka Mwango, shared that he thinks stories are the metaphor of life: “We live in two worlds, in the material world and the world in our head.”

American MK Asante broke out in rap when he shared: “Take two sets of notes, the one to pass the test and the truth.”

Mohale Mashigo shared with the audience that she never use to recognise herself in the stories she used to read when she was younger: “I did not know how distant my life was to the people in the books, until I read The Colour Purple.”

Patrick Bond mentioned the importance of polital-economical critique.

Children’s author Refilwe Moahloli emphasised the importance of magic, she feels anything is possible in the world of literature.

Rapper and PHD student at Oxford, Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh (author of Democracy & Delusion) also decided to break out in rap, before telling the audience: “Nobody claps when I quote from the book, but they do when I rap….”

Themba Qwabe started writing many years ago around 1994 when he first met his former lecturer Mr. Hlengwa, who forced him to write. He shared his thoughts on language in literature: “I do not know why I am called an African author if I write in English, but an isiZulu author when I write in an African language.”

Unathi Slasha shared his feeling that there is nothing of interest in this country and encouraged the audience to “engage with the text”.

Yewande Omotoso got the audience thinking with the following line: “In order to change the narrative, we need to know what the dominant is.” She also questioned how we can make a gift of something we stole.

Lastly, Durban based Kirsten Miller shared that she feels that we are all humans and the political is always personal.

All in all the audience experienced a great mix of inspiring authors and challenging opening speeches. It gave everyone something to look forward to during this coming week: provoking thoughts, great inspirations and heated discussions.

On Tuesday 13 March, the authors went out on their respective field trips, Themba Qwabe brought a visit to Phambili High School where he met a group of aspiring learners and addressed them about literature.

“The learners were very interested in learning more about writing, I adviced their coordinator to form a reading writing club at the school, so the learners to follow their aspirations,” says Qwabe.

Another group of authors, MK Asante, Lindiwe Mabuza, Refiloe Moahloli and Yewande Omotoso, visited the Tongaat Central Library for a series of workshops and panel discussions. “It was absolutely beautiful, I really enjoyed it. There was a group of high school kids. It was a very interactive sessions, as much as we were sharing with the kids, they were sharing with us, which was really beautiful,” says Refiloe Moahloli about the session.

Additionally Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh and Luka Mwango visited learners at Mangosuthu University of Technology and Patrick Bond addresses learners at Worker’s College.

Durban launch: Feminism Is edited by Jen Thorpe (22 March)

“Sometimes painfully relatable, other times outrageously hilarious, every page is sprinkled with vulnerability.” – Lovelyn Nwadeyi


“Fierce, incisive, compassionate and thoughtful. This is an essential collection of diverse voices.” – Lauren Beukes

A collection of fresh, contemporary feminist writing from South Africans.

In an accessible and engaging way, the book delves into what feminism means in South Africa today.

It explore feminist inspiration, feminist anger, inclusions and exclusions, inter-generational issues, and the varied ways to engage in feminist practice. This collection will inspire, inform and stimulate, and it will reaffirm the importance of feminism in South Africa.

Jen Thorpe is a feminist writer and researcher based in Cape Town. Her first novel, The Peculiars (2016), was long-listed for the Etisalat Prize and the Sunday Times Fiction Prize. She has published poetry, flash fiction, and short stories on many platforms including Aerodrome and BooksLive. For more information visit
Event Details

Woordfees 2018 has kicked off!

Woordfees 2018 is in full swing!

For the past few days the quaint university town of Stellenbosch has played host to artists, musicians, performers and – of course – authors from across the country.

If you’re in the western cape, be sure to head to this dorpie before Saturday, 10 March for the opportunity to hear and see your favourite local writers in action.

Past events include discussions on translations, poetry slams, and philosophy cafes. Future events to look forward to include discussions with Tim du Plessis and Thuli Madonsela, Redi Tlhabi and Adriaan Basson, and a whole array of authors (including Fred Khumalo, Alexandra Fuller, and Achmat Dangor) on writing history.

Click here for upcoming events!

Woordfees-gesprek: belangrike nuwe boek oor die invloed van Griekse en Romeinse idees in Suid-Afrika

South Africa, Greece, RomeVyf akademici van die Departement Antieke Studie by US gaan by die Woordfees op 7 Maart om 15h30 in die Thom-teater Seminaarkamer ʼn gesprek oor dié boek (uit die Cambridge University Press-stal) voer.

Dit gaan nie net oor die SA Grondwet, empire of argitektuur nie: haas elke denkbare aspek van ons hedendaagse lewe en kennisstrukture kan na die antieke wêreld teruggevoer het. Die subtitel van die boek, South Africa, Greece, Rome is juis Classical Confrontations: die botsende en kontensieuse word hierin toegelig, maar daar sal ook vertel word oor hoe ʼn gemene kennis van die antieke tot versoening kan lei (en gelei het).

Die redakteur van die boek se inleiding beskryf hoe Codesa-samesprekeings tussen die NP en die ANC in 1990 by een geleenheid baie gespanne geraak het, tot Dr Gerrit Viljoen en Chris Hani tydens ʼn teepouse oor hul gemeenskaplike kennis van en liefde vir die antieke Griekse tragedie begin gesels het. Dit het tot ʼn meer gemoedelike benadering by hierdie uiteenlopende deelnemers aan die gesprek gelei. By ʼn ander geleentheid is die opvoering van ʼn Griekse tragedie gekombineer met die opvoer van grepe uit vertellings voor die Waarheids- en Versoeningskommissie. Die dramatiese raamwerk het die besondere lyding van mense tot die universele begrip van leed verhef.

Die vyf lede van die Departement Antieke van US gaan ʼn tweetalige gesprek hou, al is die publikasie in Engels ter wille van die internasionale teikensmark.

ʼn Komplimentêre eksemplaar van die boek sal by die gespreksgeleentheid aan die Rektor van US, Prof Wim de Villiers, oorhandig word. Sy suster Fran was dosent in Latyn en het tragies jonk gesterf. Die Dekaan van Lettere, Prof Tony Leysens sal ook ʼn eksemplaar ontvang.

ʼn Spesiale slapband-Afrika-uitgawe sal by die Lapa Boeketent te koop aangebied word, teen ongeveer ʼn vyfde van die prys van die hardeband uitgawe.

ʼn Voorsmakie…


Watch Gabourey Sidibe's 200 Women interview

“You can’t empower women without listening to their stories” – Gloria Steinem

200 Women200 women from a variety of backgrounds are asked the same five questions. Their answers are inspiring human stories of success and courage, love and pain, redemption and generosity. From well-known activists, artists, and innovators to everyday women whose lives are no less exceptional for that, each woman shares her unique replies to questions like “What really matters to you?” and “What would you change in the world if you could?”

Interviewees include US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, actor and human rights activist Alfre Woodard, and Nobel laureate Jodi Williams, along with those who are making a difference behind the scenes around the world, such as Marion Wright Edelman, head of the Children’s Defense Fund.

Each interview is accompanied by a photographic portrait, resulting in a volume that is compelling in word and image – and global in its scope and resonance. This landmark book is published to coincide with an immersive travelling exhibition and an interactive website, building on this remarkable, ever-evolving project. With responses ranging from uplifting to heartbreaking, these women offer gifts of empowerment and strength inviting us to bring positive change at a time when so many are fighting for basic freedom and equality.

Local interviewees include Graça Machel, Caster Semenya, Zelda la Grange, Mpho Tutu van Furth, Hlubi Mboya, Sahm Venter, Joanne Fedler, Ingrid le Roux, Gillian Slovo and Zoleka Mandela, among others.

A minimum of 10% of the project’s revenue will be distributed to organisations devoted to protecting and advancing the rights of women. Each interviewee can nominate an organisation (or themselves if they are in financial need) to receive their portion of the charitable pool or they can select the principal charitable partner, the Graça Machel Trust.

Here the acclaimed actress Gabourey Sidibe discusses wanting to change the stigma behind psychological help, the importance of happiness, and learning to love yourself:


Book details